Supply chains and networks

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Improved work health and safety through supply chains and networks.

What are supply chains and networks?

Supply chains and networks are the web of relationships that link the exchange of goods or services between businesses. A good example of this is moving agricultural produce from the farm to the supermarket.

A supply chain can include:

  • supply of raw materials
  • manufacturing of components
  • product assembly
  • wholesale distribution, and
  • retail supply to customers.

How do supply chains affect work health and safety?

Supply chains are usually established through formal or informal contractual arrangements. When people within a supply chain act cooperatively they can have more influence on health and safety than when they act alone.

Supply chains can also link several industry sectors as goods are produced, transported, manufactured, and distributed.

Leaders in supply chains and networks need to be champions of work health and safety. Safety often improves when one respected member of a supply chain adopts new practices which then influence other supply chain members’ perceptions, expectations and actions.

When an organisation is a major supplier or purchaser of goods or services, it is in a strong position to control, influence or encourage its peers, suppliers and customers to improve their work health and safety.

Personnel practices such as labour hire (for example, contracting out or on-hire) may also form supply chains. Businesses using or supplying labour hire workers can lead by demonstrating best practice and ensuring their workers’ placements are always safe and healthy.

Supply chains and networks can be particularly significant for work health and safety in industries such as:

  • Transport
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing, and
  • Health and community services.

These industries are identified priority industries.

Strategic outcomes

National activities will support the following outcomes:

  • Supply chain and network participants understand their cumulative impact and actively improve the health and safety of the supply chain.
  • Commercial relationships within supply chains and networks are used to improve work health and safety.
  • Industry leaders champion work health and safety in supply chains and networks.

Key activities resources and links


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